The Healing Place

Hot Topic: Naloxone

Hot Topic: Naloxone

Naloxone and other forms of harm reduction have become hot topics recently. The heroin epidemic that has swept through Kentucky has created a sense of panic and many are scrambling for answers. Naloxone is classified as an opioid antagonist which when administered can reverse the effects of heroin and other potent opioids. This is especially effective when an individual is experiencing an overdose. Heroin kills by depressing the central nervous and respiratory system, and by creating hypo-tension.

Senate Bill 192 was passed last week in a legislative effort to combat Kentucky’s heroin issues. Tougher penalties for dealers, needle exchange programs, a “Good Samaritan” provision, and greater access to Naloxone were all incorporated into the bill. Naloxone will be readily available for both first responders and concerned loved ones of heroin addicts. The new legislation will reportedly infuse many “millions” of dollars saved from previous judicial reforms into the Kentucky addiction treatment system as well.

I am a huge believer that first responders should be equipped with Naloxone and be trained in properly administering it. This will surely save many lives, and one must live to get the help they need. I am not advocate of families obtaining Naloxone with the hopes of potentially saving a loved one when/if they overdose. I believe that this sends the wrong message to families and neglects a critical component for a loved one to get help: tough love. 

After Naloxone, then what? Naloxone will save you from death, but not from life. There has to be a plan to help the suffering find life. Drugs are rampant in our community for a reason, and that reason is the simple law of economics, supply and demand. One must find out the underlying cause of their addiction. For many of us, our drug use is our means of coping with the world. 

My advice for families and friends is to develop a plan for their loved one and offer them a solution. Along with this offered solution the family will take a firm stance that they will love from a distance until their loved one treats their addiction. The addicted may accept their help and may decline their help, but what most of us in recovery know is that you will continue in active addiction until the last of your enablers are used up. This firm and very difficult stand by the family will ensure that enabling has ceased and create a scenario were the addicted will seek help much sooner.

I can’t imagine telling a family to obtain a Naloxone kit while their kid is living under their roof shooting heroin and hope that when they overdose that they can be there in time to save them. Families become hostages in their own home and can become sicker than the addict they love so dearly. As a recovering heroin addict myself, I would be dead if those I loved did not offer tough love and allow me to begin healing. The family also needs space to begin the healing process from the insanity of constant fear and worry of their loved one.

I am all for saving lives, but we must be cognizant of our message. Addiction is not a spectator sport. Eventually the whole family gets to play.